2009 Monday Thoughts: The Chick-fil-A Bowl

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This
is the way you draw it up, and this is what Hokie fans have been looking for.
The Hokies prepared hard for this game, had a great game plan, and executed
crisply on their way to an easy win. From start to finish, Virginia Tech was
clearly the superior team, and they knew it and acted like it. You would be hard
pressed to find a better bowl performance than this one.

The Hokies entered this game with a gaggle of monkeys lounging on their
backs. You heard them all: Tech had lost four straight to SEC teams, was 0-2 in
Atlanta this year, hadn’t won two bowl games in a row under Frank Beamer, hadn’t
won in a Dome since 2000 at Syracuse, etc., etc. History weighed heavily on the
Hokies.

Tennessee had their own problems. According to ESPN announcers, the Vols had
lost five or six straight dome games themselves. (I don’t remember the exact
number.) More seriously, Tennessee was “down about 23 scholarships”
from the NCAA limit of 85, creating some serious depth problems that the Hokies
exposed.

Tennessee’s biggest problem might be head coach Lane Kiffin and his approach
to the bowl game. Before we even got to Atlanta, we started to hear buzz that
the Vols weren’t taking the game as seriously as the Hokies. Observers of both
team’s practices in Atlanta said Tennessee was bringing a Pete Carroll,
West-Coast approach to practices: rap music blaring over the stadium speakers
during practices, players yucking it up, and the program generally taking a
loosey-goosey approach to the game.

This was in direct contrast to earlier reports that Tennessee’s practices in
Knoxville were rugged and hard-hitting, to the point where UT had to knock off
early for Christmas to give the players a break.

When we actually got down to Atlanta, the buzz continued to build. Tech’s
practices were focused and intense, one media member told us, but Tennessee’s
weren’t. When asked about UT players making curfew, Lane Kiffin gave a
wink-wink, nudge-nudge answer

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